April 21, 2019
This Easter Sunday morning we rejoice once again in knowing that we serve a risen Savior. He is in the world today. We know that he is living, whatever men may say! As this special day begins we are grateful that our family is once again in good health. Teena is almost back to full strength and we are mostly settled in for this time back home. Today we are surrounded by family, preparing to attend the worship service here in our home town of Quincy. We have a great deal to be thankful for.
This next week promises to be a full one as we share with the Awana club in our home church, and Ethan participates in his first ever Track meet. We are also looking forward to taking part in Singing Waters bonfire youth gathering in Cedonia, Washington this weekend. This event has been a highlight of our furlough ministry for a number of years now. Next Sunday we will be visiting Summit Valley Community Church in Addy, Washington to give a report on the ministry and then dropping in to say hello to FBC, Colville for their evening service.
Meanwhile in Benin...our colleagues would appreciate your continued prayers. Dr. Steve fell from a ladder this past week breaking his left wrist. Our team is working through some challenges with regard to our official mission status in Benin, and hot season is at its peak. Today is a special day for our churches back home in Benin as they gather to worship our Savior, who is risen indeed!
Thank you to each of you who upholds our family in prayer. May you also enjoy a blessed day of celebration this resurrection Sunday!
April 6, 2019
Over land, through the air, down the eastern seaboard in a minivan, a week at the beach in Florida with family, meetings and reunions with Faith Baptist Mission in Winter Haven, through the air once again and over the Cascade mountains to our home in Quincy…we’re back!
It is good to settle back in for this time of home assignment. Our bodies are still adjusting to the cooler climate. We have all been a bit “under the weather.” Please pray for Teena who tested positive for malaria the night before last. Thankfully, she packed test kits and several cure options for our return stateside. She is resting in bed and recovering again this morning. The fever and chills have not yet subsided but she is seeing improvement. While malaria and treatment become somewhat routine for our region the non-communicable disease is still of grave concern. It is always a relief to be away from the risk but this time it followed us home.
We have had better contact than usual with the field this time around, receiving mid-night phone calls, lots of text messages and a few e-mails. One concern that we would like to share is related to the Boutrus immigration status and our missions’ official documentation with the government. For the first time, the photocopies of our legal status have come into question. A search is being made in the official government journals to confirm their authenticity. This is another in the long line of ongoing immigration challenges that we have faced as missionaries. Please pray that the government will not have “lost” their copies of our documentation. The original documents were filed more than 40 years ago! Our current copies are legalized photocopies of a very old and poorly preserved document.
We will begin reporting in our supporting churches very soon. In the weeks to come we will be putting together family photos for new prayer cards. Working on a media presentation and preparing messages for our weekly meetings. It is all fresh and exciting for us and our children. Thank you for praying us back home, your continued prayers are always appreciated!
March 12, 2019
We are having way too much fun here in Bénin and this term is rapidly coming to a close! It is time for our family to wrap up our packing and furlough prep and begin our journey to our home stateside. The past weeks have been full and overflowing with Bible school classes, an exciting graduation ceremony for our ladies program, ongoing activities at the clinic, meetings with government officials, finishing up building projects and finally bringing things to a close so that we can take a deep breath and come and see many of you.
This morning will be Colin's last opportunity for this term to address the students in chapel. Teena will be busily wrapping up packing and we will spend the rest of our last day dealing with last minute details and visiting with our friends.
Wednesday morning (March 13th) we will be driving to the airport to fly out on Thursday. The Lord provided, once again, affordable and direct airfare from Africa. We will be meeting up with family when we land and enjoying a week of reunion. We will then spend most of a week with the mission giving a report and catching up with the board before boarding one more flight to Seattle.
Please pray for strength and alertness as we seek to finish well and travel home. We are excited to come home for a bit and share what God has been doing in our part of His world.
Colin, for the 5 of us
January 16, 2019
Quiet times for reflection can be hard to come by out here. On this Tuesday morning, our family is enjoying a much needed 2 day get-away at a small lake 4 hours south of our home. Grandpa and Grandma Bell are helping keep track of our ambitious children as Teena and I enjoy a bit of time away from the daily program that has become well established over the years. Ethan is busy catching every living thing that he finds.
Eliana is learning how to cast and reel an adult sized fishing pole and Elias is testing his limits in a small kayak as we constantly call him back to safer waters. No school today for the kids, just peaceful fun-filled times which allows me to sit down and reflect on the ministry and formulate a prayer update.
Some time ago, I began reviewing the events of 2018 in hopes of sending out a year-end report. The daily grind cut in and I determined that most of my efforts searching through photos and looking over the calendar, would be of use for our upcoming furlough. We are looking forward to returning stateside sometime around the end of March for 7 months. We will begin our furlough with a visit to the home office in Winter Haven, Florida before flying home to Quincy, Washington where we will have the opportunity to report once again.
Highlights from 2018 included teaching 6 Bible training modules, 3 in Guéné, 2 in Cotonou, and 1 in Lubumbashi, DR Congo where we enjoyed time away with family. We were able to facilitate and assist with 2 very productive Bible translation consultations, making progress toward the printing of the OT in Dendi. Midway through the year we enjoyed hosting our first ever missionary intern, Tim Dahlhausen.
At long-last we were able to finish construction of a dormitory facility in Malanville. Currently nearly a dozen young ladies are living at the dormitory, studying to further their education and benefiting from the discipleship and watch-care of our dorm parents, Abdoulaye and Djamela Namata.
Several small construction projects were completed at the clinic facility but the largest construction project was a complete makeover and addition to our existing guesthouse facility on the Guéné station adapting it for use as a recording studio.
That project is still ongoing but thanks to a great deal of assistance from Teena’s father, Steve Bell, assisting with electrical and finish work, the facility is almost ready for use. Possibly the most challenging event of 2018 was the closure of the clinic for just over a month in September.
In contrast, one of the most encouraging events was the remodel of one of our oldest church buildings in Mamasi to the surprise and joy of a very willing and actively participating group of men and ladies who received the work team. A new church plant was started in Isséné. A former work in Kofuno has come back to life under the direction of two of our Bible School graduates.
The church in Guéné, which has long struggled, seems to have found new life under the direction of another of our graduates, George Iboulou. Recent attendance was reported to be over 60 on a Sunday morning and a choir was formed to bring life to Sunday morning services. We have much to be thankful for and more to share than this update or even a photo presentation could relate.
The next few months promise to be challenging. Bible School has begun once again with our ladies training program. Cindy Faile is currently teaching two successive courses. Our first ever commencement ceremony for the ladies will be taking place on the 26th of this month with 7 more students anticipating graduation from our IBBD program. This means that they will have completed a minimum of 18 two credit hour courses in biblical, theological, and practical ministry course studies. Shortly thereafter, a crucially important translation consultation will take place as we work through the Dendi translation of Isaiah and subsequently refine New Testament citations from that text. All this in preparation for oral recordings of the Dendi New Testament later on in the year. In the absence of Steve and Katrina Boutrus we will continue coordinating and often shuttling volunteer medical personnel in and out of the clinic providing oversight as needed.
Before boarding our flight home, Colin will have taught 4 more courses, three in the Bible Institute and 1 in Cotonou. A number of construction projects are awaiting completion and it is certain that somethings will just have to be put on hold. Thank you for your prayers and support. Now won’t you pray us through the next couple months and safely back home?
December 25, 2018
There was no snow on the ground this morning as we headed to church in Kouberi, but at just over 60 degrees everyone was bundled up for the cold. We gripped cups of tea and listened to Christmas music as we prepared the church building and grounds for our celebration. Everyone participated in the festivities including our worship service, and celebration meal. The night before a group of young men and ministry leaders gathered in the village where we projected an evangelistic film for over 250 people who were present for the event. Several shared their testimonies of faith and pled with the locals to give their lives to Christ.
This afternoon we traveled to visit other sister churches in the area and enjoyed the afternoon Christmas program in Boiffo. As night fell we relaxed at home with Dad and Mom Bell and opened a few presents with the kids. Throughout the day we were reminded of many of you, our dear friends and family. May God bless you this Christmas season as we bring the year 2018 to a close.